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Ed Stourton calls for truce in 'accent wars' by arguing 'clarity should not be confused with class'

BBC presenter Edward Stourton (pictured), nicknamed 'Classy Ed', argued that clarity and authority should not be confused with class

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Posh Ed’ Stourton calls for a truce in ‘accent wars’ with South London boy Amol Rajan at The Corporation saying ‘clarity should not be confused with class’

  • Stourton admitted his accent was once ‘much classier than the late Queen’s’
  • The row started after a debate with Amol Rajan, who has a South London accent
  • Rajan of the Today program criticized the BBC for its lack of diversity
  • Stourton said it was ‘clarity and authority’ that mattered most

BBC presenter Edward Stourton has called for a truce in the “accent war” at the Corporation.

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The Radio 4 broadcaster, nicknamed ‘Posh Ed’ because of his education at Ampleforth and Trinity College, Cambridge, argued that clarity and authority should not be confused with class.

The argument began after a debate with Amol Rajan, who has a South London accent, from the Today programme.

Mr Rajan has criticized the BBC for its lack of diversity, after research suggested that 70% of news readers speak with Received Pronunciation (RP), compared to around 3% of the UK population.

BBC presenter Edward Stourton (pictured), nicknamed 'Classy Ed', argued that clarity and authority should not be confused with class

BBC presenter Edward Stourton (pictured), nicknamed ‘Classy Ed’, argued that clarity and authority should not be confused with class

Mr Stourton admitted his accent was once ‘much classier than the late Queen’s’, but said being clear was the most important factor.

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Writing in the Radio Times, Mr Stourton said it was “clarity and authority” that mattered most.

He cited West Yorkshire-born novelist JB Priestley as an example of someone who “possessed clarity” “without being remotely chic”.

He then pitted Priestley against Winston Churchill, whom he called “classy” but who was sometimes “difficult to understand”.

Amol Rajan (pictured), who has a South London accent, has criticized the BBC for its lack of diversity

Amol Rajan (pictured), who has a South London accent, has criticized the BBC for its lack of diversity

Tim Davie, the BBC’s chief executive, was quizzed by Mr Rajan in September when asked if he would consider giving a presenter job to someone with a ‘strong working-class regional accent’ , to which the boss of the company replied. with “of course”.

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However, Mr Rajan’s co-presenter Justin Webb disagreed with the suggestion that there was an imbalance. He told the Henley Literary Festival: “The work is about communication. You must be understood.

On BBC2 arts program The Late Show, Mr Stourton said the style of presenter had changed since 1989, adding that many, including himself, had “flattened their voices”. He added, “But that doesn’t seem to have ended the enthusiasm for the accent wars.”

He concluded that broadcasting should be like a conversation over a drink.

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